New York Yankees Sign Nick Swisher To Minor League Deal
The New York Yankees have added depth to their roster by signing veteran outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher to a minor league deal. Chad Jennings of LoHud tweeted early Saturday afternoon that Swisher was working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex in anticipation of a contract.
There is a provision in Swisher’s deal that allows him to opt out on June 15 if he is still with the Triple-A squad, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Also, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal noted that acquiring first base depth has been a priority since Greg Bird went down with a shoulder injury.
Source said Swisher had offers from three other teams besides the Yankees.
— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) April 9, 2016
“I know he is going to start working out, and he’s going to join the Triple-A club,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB after the team’s 8-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. “For us, he’s played the outfield and first base, mostly the outfield for us when he was here. I think he has to make sure that he’s ready and gets going before you start talking about him, but when he was here, he was extremely productive and loved playing here.”
Girardi’s comments were echoed by a characteristically jovial Swisher as he expressed gratitude to the Yankees organization.
“The fact they let me come out here and work is great. It keeps me in the game, keeps me going strong, and I appreciate that. This place is like family.”
Swisher, 35, was cut by the Atlanta Braves late in Spring Training despite a decent performance in the month of March. The Braves acquired Swisher, along with Michael Bourn, in a salary dump trade last season. However, the team elected to part with both veterans as they enter a rebuilding season in 2016.
After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Oakland Athletics (2004-2007) and Chicago White Sox (2008), Swisher found his way to the Bronx as the team acquired the switch-hitter prior to the 2009 season. Injuries led Swisher to the Yankees’ full-time right fielder spot and he settled in comfortably, helping the team to its 27th World Series championship in 2009.
During his four-year stint with the Yankees, Swisher was one of the most productive outfielders in baseball. He averaged 26 HR, 87, and a.267 batting average from 2009-2012 while making his only American League All-Star team in 2010. However, the Yankees allowed Swisher to walk in free agency following the 2012 season and the boisterous outfielder signed a four-year deal with the Cleveland Indians.
In his first campaign with the Tribe in 2013, Swisher continued to produce at his career norms but the contract quickly turned disastrous. The Colombus, Ohio, native hit a meager.208 with eight HR and 42 RBI in 97 games the following season as arthroscopic surgery on both knees cut his year short. The procedure carried over into 2015 as Swisher began the year on the disabled list.
Knee issues persisted and eventually led to the aforementioned salary dump trade to Atlanta. Between the Indians and Braves last year, Swisher hit just.196 with six HR and 25 RBI in 76 games.
There is currently no clear path to the Yankees’ major league roster for Swisher. The outfield is full, Mark Teixeira is holding down first base, and Alex Rodriguez is the full-time designated hitter. However, as Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York noted, the signing of Swisher puts a lot of pressure on backup first baseman and corner outfielder Dustin Ackley.
“The Yankees signing of Nick Swisher puts pressure on Dustin Ackley to perform. Ackley, the backup at first to Mark Teixeira, had a bit of trouble defensively Friday. Swisher could eventually be viewed as an upgrade.”
An injury to any of the Yankees’ key players will likely bring Swisher back to the Bronx.
[Featured Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]